Pet Health with Helen Woodward Animal Center: Disaster preparedness for pets
SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – September is National Preparedness month which reminds us that we need to think about disasters before they have a chance to impact our families. Dr. Patricia Carter with Helen Woodward Animal Center stopped by Good Morning San Diego to talk about how to include our furry family members in our plans as well.
Prepare emergency supplies:
Since evacuation time is typically limited and it is important to head the instructions of state and local officials, the best case scenario is to have disaster supplies for you and your pet ahead of time. At the first indication that a fire or other disaster may impact your family start to gather together your pet’s food. Don’t forget bottled water and also bowls, bedding and cleaning supplies. If your pet is on medication also make sure you get this gathered up. If your pet takes medication that needs refrigeration such as insulin have a small thermal type container or lunch box that can fit an icepack to keep the medication cold. Make sure you have a carrier for each animal you own. Have them easily accessible should the need arise.
For people they usually recommend having three days of food and water but for pets consider having a week’s worth of supplies, as animals are very sensitive to food changes and you do not want to be dealing with GI issues on top of the stress of being displaced from your home. You may also have a hard time getting food for more exotic pet species like reptiles, birds or small mammals. For cats make sure to have litter and disposable trays in your emergency kit.
Preplanning is the key to getting your pets out should you need to evacuate. Remember pets can pick up on our stress so try and stay calm but remember the stress of the situation can cause animals that normally get along well to be short tempered. For cats this means having them each in their own carrier, if you have rabbits, birds or other small mammals don’t forget to have a carrier or cage that can fit in your car during the evacuation process but keep them safe. Dogs usually are used to riding in cars but if they are small a carrier may be a good idea for them as well. You can also plan on having an x-pen or crate that can be used should you need to secure your pets in a hotel room or evacuation center.
If evacuation is happening ensure you keep medication and food in the car but away from hungry dogs or other pets who may try to eat it if they have access in the car. DO NOT leave your pet or turn them loose. If it is not safe for you to remain home, it is not safe for your pet.
Arranging a safe place:
In the event that you need to evacuate your home, make sure you have a safe location to bring your pet. This can mean a family member or friend’s house, a boarding or pet care facility. You can also look into pet friendly hotels that may be able to accommodate all of your family members. You should have multiple options to choose from in the event that many areas are under evacuation.
If you are not at home:
There are emergency alert stickers that can be placed on windows near the doors of your home that would alert rescue or emergency personnel if there are pets inside who would need help in case of an emergency. Have a friend or neighbor lined up who could retrieve your pets from your home and keep them in a safe location until you can arrive. Make sure this person will have access to your home that your pet’s know them and the person knows where to find the carriers/leashes etc.